Bear’s Lair competition returns to Peterborough for another year

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Watch above: The annual Bear's Lair competition returns to Peterborough

Potential entrepreneurs may want to throw their hats in the ring for the Bear’s Lair competition.

The annual event, returning to Peterborough next week, offers winners and finalists cash prizes and thousands of dollars in business and mentoring services.

Local entrepreneurs enter the competition starting Jan. 16, and then submit their business plans by March 2. On March 6, semifinalists pitch their business to a panel of judges. Six finalists are then chosen to showcase their businesses to the judges on April 18, when a winner is chosen.

Kelli Coon was a finalist last year, and says the experience helped her launch her business, Ship Shape Service.

She said she got the idea for a boat-cleaning business in early 2017.

“Before I knew it, from an idea in January, I was on a stage in April, promoting it and pitching it,” she said.

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Coon didn’t win, but she says the experience was a victory nonetheless.

“I felt like I was a winner,” she said. “I had the exposure, I had that feeling in my heart, ‘I’m a winner here,’ and I went away with the enthusiasm to take this and run with it.”

Diane Richard, chair of this year’s Bear’s Lair competition, says Coon’s experience isn’t unique.

“Most people start this competition thinking they’re alone, and the problems that they have are unique to them,” she said.

“After going through the competition, people remain friends — they get together and they support each other.”

Anyone interested in the event can drop by an orientation session on Tuesday at 6 p.m., at the Greater Peterborough Chamber of Commerce office on George Street.

The winner is announced in April.